National ID card plan stalled

Plans to develop and distribute a national identification card in time for the 2021 general election appear unlikely to come to fruition, the Communications Minister has confirmed. 

The Minister of Communication Information and Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupai, said the Government was still waiting for consultants to provide technical assistance and upgrade existing civil registration systems to fulfill World Bank requirements. 

"We are hiring consultants, funded by the World Bank so that policies can be in place and then the technical consultant to do the technical design," he said.

"And [we are also waiting] for [a] consultation to review our laws because there will be an effect on the information security of the people."

The procurement of consultancy services to provide assistance for the development of the National ID system was initially advertised by the Ministry of Finance in May last year. 

In 2018, Afamasaga, said his goal was for Samoa to develop a system of digital identification that could be used by all citizens in time for next year's election. 

Notwithstanding hopes that consultancy work will start this month, that goal now seems unlikely to be achieved, Afamasaga said. 

"We'll keep fighting and pushing that it will be achieved but because of the many requirements imposed by the World Bank and it's almost been a year since we've been waiting for consultants and many other requirements we need to meet," he said.

"Plus the slow down caused by measles was another delay in the works but the absolute goal is to make the 2021 election.

"If not, we will look towards the next general election."

Like the United States green card, the new identification is planned to replace not only voters' identification cars but could also be used as a health card and for other services such as Samoa National Provident Fund, or as a driver's licence. 

The Government has been pushing to provide training and awareness programmes as preparations for the establishment of the National ID.

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